Move over, drivers – more bike lanes are coming to Hoboken.
At Wednesday night’s City Council meeting, the six council members in attendance unanimously approved an ordinance that will green light over 10 miles of bike lanes throughout the mile-square city.
Parking and Transportation Director Ian Sacs said now that the ordinance has been passed, the city can begin to paint the new bike lanes on the streets of Hoboken.
Members of Bike Hoboken, an organization of cyclists in the city, attended the council meeting on Wednesday, wearing their helmets to show their visible support for bike lanes in Hoboken.
‘86 percent of cyclists surveyed indicated they would feel safer on Hoboken’s streets with bike lanes.’
“This is good for everybody,” said Jim Vance, a bike activist.
Vance spoke about the health benefits of riding a bicycle and how the city should be encouraging residents to do so.
Brian Wagner, a member of Bike Hoboken, read off statistics at the meeting. Wagner said 86 percent of cyclists surveyed indicated they would feel safer on Hoboken’s streets with bike lanes.
80 percent of Hoboken’s streets
There are three classes of bike lanes. Class I bike lanes are separate from the street, like the one along the waterfront parallel to Sinatra Drive downtown. Class II lanes are striped bike lanes, such as the ones on Grand and Madison streets. Class III bike lanes are known as “sharrows,” or shared lane paint markings on streets, according to a city release.
The city currently has 4.5 miles of bike lanes. Nearly 80 percent of Hoboken’s streets will have bike lane designations once the new lanes are painted, according to the city.
Manuel Junco, a Hoboken resident, rides his bike to work in Jersey City every day. Junco went to the meeting to show support for the new bike lanes.
Junco said he has been involved in a car accident on his bicycle on Observer Highway. He said he believes bike lanes will make it much safer for people like him to travel through the city.
Junco added that he also was in favor of the bike lanes because he and his family, including two young children, often ride bikes through the city.
The city will also be painting an additional 9.7 miles of “sharrows” on narrower streets that cannot accommodate a striped bike lane, according to a release. In addition, the city intends to create a 0.43-mile Class I bike lane along Observer Highway as part of a complete street redesign scheduled for next year.
In total, this will result in almost 25 miles of streets with bike lane designations, or nearly 80 percent of the 32 street miles in Hoboken, the release said.
Sacs said the painting of the new bike lanes will be rolled out over the next several months. He also said that studies show bike lanes reduce the speed of traffic by about five miles per hour.
“Bike lanes take Hoboken streets which are 16 feet from car to car and narrow them down to 11 feet,” Sacs said. He added that the “psychological effect” the lanes have on drivers causes them to slow down.
Knowing the rules
Wagner said that he hopes more bicyclists and motorists become educated about bicycle use in Hoboken. For example, he said, in some cities motorists parked next to a bike lane are told to open their car doors with their right hand instead of their left, causing them to turn and look out their window.
Wagner also spoke about the possibility of the city or Bike Hoboken holding seminars to educate cyclists and drivers.
“I thank the City Council for their unanimous support, Bike Hoboken for their tireless advocacy, and all the members of the public who turned out to support expanding our bike lane network,” said Mayor Dawn Zimmer, who has been a longtime advocate of bike-riding in Hoboken.
Councilman David Mello spoke about the benefits of cycling before he voted yes on Wednesday. But he said the most important issue is safety.
Councilman Tim Occhipinti, who also voted in favor of the measure, said he wants to see data on how the bike lanes have affected traffic flow in a few months’ time. Occhipinti added that he hopes more bikers will follow the rules, such as stopping at stop signs and red lights, and riding in the street instead of on the sidewalk.
Ray Smith may be reached at RSmith@hudsonreporter.com